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Media Backspin
« December 2005 | Main | February 2006 »

Tuesday, January 31 2006

Shock to the system

See cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen's take on the shock of Hamas' election success at the Dry Bones blog.


Different audiences, different messages

MashaalGiven op-ed space in The Guardian, Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal (pictured) doesn’t come across as very scary. But when talking to Arabic audiences, Memri finds a more strident message. The Washington Post also gave op-ed space to Moussa Abu Marzook to explain what Hamas wants.

UPDATE 2/1/06: The LA Times picked up on Mashaal's comments.

Echoing Ahmadinejad in Kentucky

HeraldleaderA recent commentary by Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Larry Webster strangely echoes the inflammatory rhetoric of Iranian president Ahmed Ahmadinejad. The article by Elaine Shiber that Webster refers to was published years ago and was critiqued at the time by our colleagues at CAMERA. Says Webster:

Somebody named Elaine Shiber, the smartest person from Van Lear since Loretta Lynn, catalogued in a Herald-Leader commentary some of the terrorist acts committed as Zionists weary of genocide took up horrors on a lesser scale to have a place to alight.

It takes courage, as Shiber did, to inquire as to whether the outrage your enemy harbors is justified or not, and it takes courage to challenge the idea of Israel, with charges of anti-Semitism being the standard recompense for so doing.

But when you read what she reported and know that 40 times that much happened at the hands of Israel, you know why no Arab can have a nuclear weapon. They could be morally justified in using it.

To write the Herald-Leader, click here.

Correction: The correct Shiber article that Webster refers to was actually published in January.

'Moderation in the name of sanitation'

Gal Luft argues in the Baltimore Sun that Hamas will be forced to restrain itself:

Those who until recently broke the law are now in charge of maintaining it. Those who opposed guns collection are now in charge of garbage collection.

Washington Post columnist George Will replies to this thinking:

Perhaps. But their stance -- Israel must die -- is, they say, the will of God, who has not authorized moderation in the name of sanitation.
Hitchens debunks key Hamas defense

Hitchens_2We were surprised and impressed with the way Slate columnist Christopher Hitchens (pictured) debunks a key defense of Hamas—the idea that it isn’t tainted by corruption:

For one thing, anyone voting for a clerical party in the hope of abolishing corruption is asking to be considered a fool and also treated as one: There is corruption all over the Middle East, but it is nowhere as flagrant and exploitative and damaging as in the region's two main theocracies, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Those who come to power as puritans lose no time in becoming positively gorgeous in the excess of their corruption, and Hamas will not be an exception to this rule.

There is also an element of condescension in the "corruption" explanation. Hamas says that it wants an Islamic state all the way from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It publishes and promulgates the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Why not assume that it is at least partly serious about all this?

Green light for terror?

GreenlightIs Hamas moderating itself? The 50 terror alerts reported in the Jerusalem Post since the elections don’t lie:

Hamas, the official said, was still involved in anti-Israel terror activity despite its landslide victory in last week's Palestinian parliamentary elections. Despite Hamas's win in the elections, the official said, the number of terror alerts registered by the defense establishment has stayed the same at 50 and has not decreased. Hamas, the official said, continued to perpetrate terror attacks against Israel but under the disguise of unassociated Palestinian gangs.

"Hamas itself doesn't pull the trigger," the security official said. "A lot of the times it works through local gangs in Gaza and the West Bank and supplies them with rockets and weapons and they carry out the attacks."

In other words, Hamas is giving a green light for attacks it doesn't want to be associated with. As the JCPA pointed out back in 2001, this was Yasser Arafat’s modus operandi.


Monday, January 30 2006

Prison doors still revolving

SaadatThe Daily Telegraph reports that Britain’s in the middle of a row between Hamas and Israel. Seems that Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal wants to free Ahmed Saadat (pictured) from a prison supervised by UK monitors. Saadat, who heads the PFLP, ordered the assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001 and was jailed under US and UK supervision near Jericho. AP quoted Mashaal saying:

"We will not accept that Ahmed Saadat or any of our young men of any faction be in the Jericho prison. It is impossible at these times that Palestinians be jailed in a Palestinian jail under American-British protection. This is over," he said.
Media Coverage of Hamas Victory

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Sunday, January 29 2006

Will isolating Hamas make it more popular?

TorontostarThis headline on the latest commentary by Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui begs to be debunked:

Isolating Hamas will make it more popular

What kind of people would Hamas become more popular with who didn't already vote for them? And more importantly, shouldn't legitimacy be conferred on something that's legitimate?

Shoot first, spin later

Newsweek reports that Hamas is already putting to use the lessons learned from spinmeister Nashat Aqtash:

The radicals are learning how to massage their message. Nashat Aqtash, a communications professor at Birzeit University on the West Bank, has been tutoring Hamas candidates on the language of modern politics. He says he learned one of his most valuable lessons from watching Bush's spin doctors: replace hot-button words with polite equivalents. "We don't need to 'kill people'," he says. "We need to 'remove occupation.' Both are the same, but the meaning is totally different." And aim your pitch to attract swing voters. "People tackling social issues get higher votes," he says. "When you kill, don't say you're going to do it. Just do it. And then say you're sorry."
Cartoonists respond to Hamas

Cagle Cartoons has a whole section of cartoons about Hamas' election victory. Martyn Turner of the Irish Times sums up the prevailing cynicism:


Already talking sharia

TeirThe Globe&Mail reports that Hamas is already talking about making sharia (Islamic law) the basis for the PA legal system. Sheik Mohammed Abu Teir (pictured) talked to reporter Mark MacKinnon:

“The No. 1 thing we will do is take sharia as a source for legislation. Sharia has a soul in it and is good for all occasions,” Mr. Abu Teir said in an interview with The Globe and Mail over a lunch of traditional Palestinian dishes supplemented with Coca-Cola.
The Gray Lady discovers terror

Nytimes_1This NY Times staff-ed uses the “T-word” to describe Hamas and the PLO:

It would be nice to believe that Hamas, now that it is assuming the reins of power and the burden of actually having to govern, will renounce its call for the destruction of a sovereign state, disarm its private army, get into the business of making life better for Palestinians and try to negotiate the creation of a real Palestinian state. While we're not hopeful, we are reminded that the Palestine Liberation Organization of the late Mr. Arafat, of which Mr. Abbas was once second in command, was born in terrorism. For many years Mr. Arafat and his gunmen were hunted by Israel, much as Hamas has been in recent years.

Now that the Times acknowledges that violence can be described as “terror,” and that Israel’s peace partners were “born in terrorism,” we hope the paper will remain consistent and label perpetrators of future terror as “terrorists.”

‘Hung up on the wrong issues’

Guardian_1Commenting on how the EU should address Hamas’ election victory, columnist Jonathan Steele of The Guardian went off the deep end:

Above all, Europe should not get hung up on the wrong issues, like armed resistance and the "war on terror". Murdering a Palestinian politician by a long-range attack that is bound also to kill innocent civilians is morally and legally no better than a suicide bomb on a bus. Hamas's refusal to give formal recognition of Israel's right to exist should also not be seen by Europe as an urgent problem.

So what would be the right issues for Europe to get "hung up on?"


Thursday, January 26 2006

Iranian blogs from Israel

IranIranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan is visiting Israel, risking the possibility of never returning to his home. Here’s why:

This might mean that I won’t be able to go back to Iran for a long time, since Iran doesn't recognize Israel, has no diplomatic relations with it, and apparently considers traveling there illegal. Too bad, but I don't care. Fortunately, I'm a citizen of Canada and I have the right to visit any country I want.

I'm going to Israel as a citizen journalist and a peace activist.

As a citizen journalist, I'm going to show my 20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel really looks like and how people live there. The Islamic Republic has long portrayed Israel as an evil state, with a consensual political agenda of killing every single man and woman who prays to Allah, including Iranians.

I'm going to challenge that image.

(Hat tip: Israellycool)

UPDATE 1/29/06: Derakhshan's certainly attracting attention. He got op-ed space in the NY Times.

Using Oslo against itself

In an otherwise decent report about Hamas' election victory, Ed O’Loughlin of the Sydney Morning Herald makes one statement that really goes out on a limb:

Its decision to seek power in the Palestinian Authority represents - whether it publicly admits it or not - a big step towards the recognition of the Oslo peace accords and by extension the existence of Israel.

This remains to be seen. Could Hamas actually use the Oslo framework to dismantle Oslo? Post your comments below.

Numbers don't lie, just confuse

BallotsThumbs up to the Times of London for clarifying the early confusion over exit polls, which suggested that Hamas and Fatah were running neck and neck. In fact, Prime Minister Ahmed Qoreia resigned along with the entire cabinet en-masse, conceding to Hamas. The Times writes:

The discrepancy between the exit polls and today's claims is said to be due to voting in districts, where Hamas was apparently able to capitalise on divisions within Fatah.

Wednesday, January 25 2006

Palestinian Christian responds to Hamas

Voting_1The absence of Palestinian Christian voices in all the coverage of today’s PA elections makes this report in Toronto’s Globe & Mail stand out. A Christian pharmacist in Ramallah shares his fears:

"We're all afraid. We're worried about the future, that we'll become a second Iran."

It's a common sentiment in Ramallah, especially among the city's dwindling Christian community. Where Christians once made up an about 10 per cent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the share is believed to have fallen to less than 2 per cent as many left to escape both the rising Islamicization of society and the constant violence.

While Hamas has worked hard to moderate its message during the campaign -- stressing that its primary goal is ending corruption within the Palestinian Authority, and even dropping some of its rhetoric about destroying Israel -- many Palestinian Christians are still nervous about being governed by a movement that proclaims "Islam is the answer" in response to tough questions about the collapsed Palestinian economy and prospects for future statehood.

Will the election results spark more Christians to leave?

UPDATE: David Gerstman of Soccer Dad brought to our attention a related commentary in the National Review. Hamas is already trying to impose it's agenda on Christians and other non-Muslims in Bethlehem:

Might the exercise of political power have a moderating influence on Hamas extremists, as the starry-eyed hope? In an interview published in the Wall Street Journal just before Christmas, Bethlehem city councilor and local Hamas leader Hassan El-Masalmeh advocated a special tax on non-Muslim residents of the future Palestinian state. The tax, known as al-jeziya, is required by the Koran for dhimmis, second-class Jews and Christians. "We in Hamas intend to implement this tax someday," he told an interviewer, "We say it openly — we welcome everyone to Palestine but only if they agree to live under our rules."

UPDATE 1/29/06: Ruth Gledhill, the Times of London's religion correspondent who blogs Articles of Faith details the Christian response to Hamas.


Tuesday, January 24 2006

Still waiting for a 'Night of the Long Knives'

In a sharply critical Washington Post commentary, David Aaron Miller squarely lays the blame for Gaza’s mess on Palestinian leaders:

With Gaza a mess and their internal affairs in disarray, the Palestinians confront perhaps the deepest crisis and largest question for their nationalist hopes: how to maintain a monopoly on force. From its inception, the Palestinian national movement has never had its "Night of the Long Knives." Such a reckoning would have allowed Fatah -- its dominant faction -- to impose control and articulate a coherent national strategy. But Fatah, highly decentralized and ministering to its dispirited, dispossessed refugee constituency, chose to accommodate rather than confront. Indeed, it allowed smaller groups of varying political persuasions to undertake terrorism and violence that put the entire national movement in the dock.

Today that situation is worse than ever. Yasser Arafat's real transgression was not his unwillingness to accept what Ehud Barak offered at Camp David (no Palestinian leader could have done that and survived), it was his willingness to allow his monopoly over the forces of violence in Palestinian society to dissipate and to acquiesce in, if not encourage, terrorist attacks by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas. Abbas's effort to create "one authority, one gun" has morphed into no authority and many guns.

Whether it's called a "Night of the Long Knives" or the Palestinian Altalena moment, Israel, like Miller, is still waiting.

Shaky rationales

HamasWriting in Newsday, David Makovsky debunks shaky rationales for legitimizing Hamas:

Despite the belligerent tone, some believe it would be a good idea for Hamas to join the Palestinian government. They are convinced that giving this group public responsibility is a test that it will ultimately fail and that it will be discredited in the process. This is not a new argument. In fact, the same argument was made about the Islamic extremists when Ayatollah Khomeini took over in Iran. Indeed, the analysts were correct that the mullahs in Iran would lose public support, but were wrong that this would lessen their grip on power….

Another hope some analysts have is that once in power Hamas will split between those who favor good governance and those who are largely motivated by their terrorist aims. Whether this split will occur depends in no small part on whether the international community forces Hamas to choose. It is never easy for ideological movements to shift. Something needs to trigger it….

To grant de facto legitimacy to Hamas would be wrong and undermine Palestinian moderates, who have made clear to the Palestinian public the radical road is a sure way for them all to become international pariahs and for the goal of statehood to become a more distant prospect.

The $64,000 question

BBC reporter James Reynolds asks a Hamas candidate the $64,000 question:

"How can you be a democratic party on the one hand and an armed militia on the other hand. Surely it doesn't mix ?" I ask Dr Aziz Salem Dwaik, who is one of the Hamas candidates in Hebron.

"It mixes all over the world because each and every country has its army and our resistance movement is our army fighting for the cause of our people."

Notwithstanding Dwaik's unsatisfying reply, why haven't more reporters asked Hamas candidates the same question point blank?


Monday, January 23 2006

Off the air?

Offtheair_1AFP reports that a PA prosecutor wants to shut down Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station because it doesn't have a legal license to operate. Station manager Rael Abu Deir admits there's no license, but the prosecutor's order hasn't been enforced yet.

Hamas and Hezbollah parallels

The Guardian hopes Hamas will learn a lesson from Hezbollah’s political experience:

Every conflict is different, but there are parallels with others. If Hamas MPs debate in parliament, or run, say, the Palestinian ministries of education and social welfare while the fighters keep their kalashnikovs and explosives, the situation will be akin to the old relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA. Closer to home, the parallel is the Lebanese Shia movement, Hizbullah, which fought Israel but is now a party in the Lebanese parliament.

But as the Washington Times points out:

Aside from al Qaeda, no modern terrorist organization has killed more Americans than Hezbollah, and it plays a major role in fomenting Palestinian violence in the West Bank and Gaza.

How does The Guardian explain the benign Hezbollah party's need for artillery rounds?


Sunday, January 22 2006

Independent commission update

Bbc_1London’s Jewish Chronicle reports that some members of the independent commission investigating the BBC’s coverage of the Mideast conflict will visit the region in February. The commission's final report is supposed to be released this spring. HonestReporting readers recently voted the BBC 2005's Dishonest Reporter of the Year.

Chic Yassin?

PflpBBC reports that a Danish company is selling a line of t-shirts inspired by “rebel groups,” with proceeds from each sale supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). The US has designated both groups as terror organizations. The BBC writes:

The firm, Fighters and Lovers, says it will donate 5 euros (£3) for each T-shirt it sells. . . .

The designers say Palestianian militant Leila Khaled and Colombian rebel leader Jacobo Arenas were among their inspirations.

Will a Chic Yassin line be next?

Spin doctor rebrands Hamas

The Toronto Star introduces readers to Hamas’ new media advisor, Nashat Aqtash. If Hamas fares as well as expected in this week’s legislative elections, expect to see Aqtash’s name more frequently:

Aqtash, bluntly speaking, is a spin doctor, newly installed by Hamas to rebrand the movement for Western consumption.

On leave from Ramallah's Birzeit University, where he teaches media studies, Aqtash has been hired as an outside consultant to explain how a kinder, gentler Hamas is poised to take the reins of Palestinian power — and what a good thing that is for all concerned.

"Hamas is recognizing that the media war is more important than the actual war on the ground," Aqtash tells the Star from his Ramallah office….

“I believe in the Gandhi approach to liberation and I believe Hamas is taking this route. At least let's give it a try."

Aqtash is being paid $180,000 to lead Hamas' month-long pre-election media campaign.


Thursday, January 19 2006

That's why they call it a 'suicide' attack

Cheers to The Independent for a headline clarifying any possible misconceptions about today’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv:

Suicide bomber dies in Tel Aviv attack
Reuters discovers 'terror'

Reuters_4When French President Jacques Chirac threatened a non-conventional response to terror in France, Reuters discovered the T-word:

France defends right to nuclear reply to terrorism

France said on Thursday it would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state that carried out a terrorist attack against it, reaffirming the need for its nuclear deterrent.

What happened to the news service’s policy not to use the word “terror?” Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz broke the story of an internal memo by Reuters’ head of news, Stephen Jukes, spelling out why not to use “terror” in coverage. Wrote Jukes:

We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist. . . . To be frank, it adds little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack.

Has Reuters decided that it's admitted policy of appeasing terrorists on this issue just doesn't hold water?

Hamas - Bullets and Ballot Boxes

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Wednesday, January 18 2006

'A distant echo of American Idol'

Judging from today’s NY Times, Hamas’ new Al-Aqsa TV sounds pretty wholesome:

The current 12 hours of daily television programming, which has the unfinished look of public-access cable television in the United States, consists primarily of readings from the Koran, religious discourse and discussions of women’s issues, such as Islamic fashion, child-rearing tips and the right of women to work, which Hamas supports. It will eventually feature a sort of Islamic MTV, with Hamas-produced music videos using footage from the group’s fights with Israeli troops. There will even be a talent search show, a distant echo of “American Idol.”

Unfortunately, the Times didn’t inquire about Al-Aqsa TV news, or shed much light on Hezbollah's less-than-wholesome Al-Manar TV, which inspired Hamas' latest propaganda efforts.

Hamas' January surprise

Campaign_1Hamas campaign momentum hit a snag with the publication of a fatwa declaring the PA elections contrary to Islam and that Muslims must therefore not vote. According to YNet News, this ruling was issued by leaders of the Islamic Liberation Party:

The ILP has attacked Hamas for its participation, claiming that the elections are taking place in the context of the Oslo agreements, 'which give up sections of Palestine.'

The ILP also claims that the elections are "part of colonialist game" aimed at integrating Islamic organizations into the political game, as is taking place across the Muslim world.

Most members of the ILP are also members of Hamas, making this "January surprise" particularly delicate.

Photo-op opportunism

A conference of Israeli and Palestinian journalists just wrapped up with one interesting observation noted in the Jerusalem Post:

The issue of balanced coverage also preoccupied the group. Titi said that many times during suicide bombers' funerals gunmen would put a rifle in the hands of the grief-stricken mother, thus creating a photo opportunity, but not necessarily representative one.

Tuesday, January 17 2006

Abbas a lame duck: blame Israel

Abbas_2Gaza is sliding into anarchy and Hamas is poised to become a real powerbroker after the Palestinian elections. So guess who this NY Times editorial blames for that. According to the Times, Israel didn’t shore up PA president Mahmoud Abbas enough:

Any elected government stands or falls on its ability to deliver security and jobs, and the authority was left unable to provide either. When Mr. Abbas came to power and said the things Mr. Arafat could never bring himself to say about Palestinian violence's being counterproductive, Israel gave him only marginal support. Israel is right to press Mr. Abbas to follow up his words with deeds, and to do more to crack down on terror, starting with his own Fatah movement. But Israelis also need to recognize that he is not politically or militarily strong enough at this time to achieve victory.

Saying Israel didn't support Abbas enough gives the world carte blanche to blame Israel for the ugly consequences of Hamas' expected success at the polls and absolves the PA of responsibility for not taking steps against the Palestinian terror infrastructure. So if the Times wants to see Abbas get more support, the paper should instead call on the Fatah gunmen responsible for the chaos to shore up their nominal leader before he becomes a proverbial lame duck.


Monday, January 16 2006

An 'improved mirror image'

When we recently noted some Western pundits wondering whither the Arab Sharon, we could only wonder if any Arab writers would bravely make the same point. So we were struck by the way Mona Eltahawy, writing the Egyptian paper Asharq Alawsat, addresses the myths and facts of Ariel Sharon's career with a touch of envy:

The Arab world hates Ariel Sharon so much not because he is responsible for the death of so many Arabs but because he is essentially the mirror image of the Arab leaders that have ruled us for decades. He is the better and improved mirror image.

If hatred for Sharon was based solely on the number of Arabs he has killed, then he would probably lose out to those responsible for the thousands killed in the fighting of Black September and the thousands more killed in Hama….

Sharon is the better and improved mirror image of an Arab leader because we have held what he does to us in much higher regard than anything we have done to each other.

Furthermore, Sharon is the typical military-man-turned-politician that so many Arab leaders are. But unlike so many of these military men whose paths to power in the Arab world have been paved with forged elections, Sharon was actually democratically elected.

(Hat tip: Tom Gross)

Dramatic parallels

PortraitsDoes anyone think AP reporter Steven Gutkin went at least a little overboard trying to draw dramatic parallels between Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat? Gutkin writes:

Some Israelis and Palestinians wince at the idea of drawing any comparison between Sharon and Arafat. Each is widely hated by the other side as a terrorist or a war criminal. But no one can deny the drama each brought to the scene and the adoring following they attracted.

Arafat's funeral provoked a huge outpouring of grief, and Sharon's stroke has plunged Israelis into a somber mood, with many scarcely able to imagine life without him….

Some argue the great symbolism attached to Arafat, the revolutionary, and Sharon, the warrior, made Mideast peacemaking harder.

Post your comments below.

All politics is local

PapoliceThe Jerusalem Post reports that PA security personnel have been threatened with dismissal if they don't vote for Fatah. The Post also reports that Hamas has other ideas for the police force:

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar announced that his movement would not abandon the armed struggle against Israel or negotiate with any Israeli after, when and if, it wins the elections. He disclosed that a Hamas-controlled cabinet would incorporate Palestinian Authority policemen into armed groups that are fighting against Israel.

Sunday, January 15 2006

Leunig's lament

Michael Leunig of The Age (Melbourne) responds to critics of his controversial cartoon about Ariel Sharon’s stroke:

I can almost imagine that if Sharon could have sat up from his coma and seen the cartoon, he might have approved: "Yeah, that's me, with the last movement in my body I'll attack my enemies, whoever they are."

And isn't that the point: this whole bitter, cruel tragedy of Palestine and Israel increasingly appears to be a stubborn, crazed fight to the death with the world getting dragged in….

If society no longer wants troublesome, disturbing cartoonists who take improbable positions, so be it. But let's not hear any more of Pastor Martin Neimoller's lament: "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew." What sort of a person will dare to speak out? Probably not a perfect one. Maybe even an idiot.

BBC divides Jerusalem again

We’re befuddled by the BBC’s explanation of eastern Jerusalem participation in PA elections:

The area is often called Arab East Jerusalem because the majority of its residents are Palestinian, and Palestinians hope to make it their future capital.

The 200,000-odd Palestinians living in the eastern part of East Jerusalem were allowed to vote in an election in 1996, in which Hamas did not take part.

It’s bad enough to see news services describe “East Jerusalem” as a proper noun -- a problem we addressed here. But why is the BBC taking eastern Jerusalem and dividing that area into eastern and western parts too?

No pretense of balance

How “balanced” can we expect Hamas’ new Al-Aqsa TV station to be? AFP talked to the station’s news manager:

The station's news editor admits openly that Al-Aqsa news is "oriented".

"We adapt news so that it is compatible with the culture, values of our people and Islam," added Ibrahim Daher….

Unsurprisingly for a channel named for the mosque compound that is at the centre of Palestinian claims to annexed east Jerusalem, the television eschews the neutral terminology aimed for by international news channels.

Instead it uses its own pejorative vocabulary for the Jewish state, whose right to exist it still denies.

"We don't say the Israeli defence minister, but the Zionist minister of war and terrorism. We don't call Ariel Sharon prime minister, we call him the war criminal," Daher explained.


Thursday, January 12 2006

Media U-Turn on Sharon?

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The Arab press reacts

YNet News picks up on the Arab media’s reaction to Ariel Sharon’s stroke, including cartoons like this one from Jordan's Al-Dustour:



Wednesday, January 11 2006

Surprising apartheid comparison

DeklerkA Johannesburg Star staff-ed compares Ariel Sharon to former South African Prime Minister F.W. De Klerk, who, along with Nelson Mandela, presided over the dismantling of the apartheid regime:

Of course they are in many ways very different. But Sharon, like De Klerk, had the strong conservative credentials necessary to reassure his nervous compatriots and coax them along the uncharted path towards peace and reconciliation with their ancient enemies….

Sharon the leader was hard and unlovable, and many Palestinians have welcomed his departure. But one suspects they know, in their heart of hearts, that in the rough neighbourhood of Middle East politics, he might have been their best bet. This was a stroke of bad luck for Israel and the Middle East.

Sharon’s compared to De Klerk, instead of his predecessor, hardliner P.W. Botha? So much for all the silly criticisms that Israel is an apartheid state.

(Hat tip: It’s Almost Supernatural)

Bombing coverage influences terror recruiting

Research by University of Cincinnati Professor Mia Bloom found that media fascination with female suicide bombers is useful for terror organizations. YNet News reports:

During the convention, the professor also said that suicide bombings carried out by women are more effective for terror organizations – more people are killed and the incident receives more media coverage….

The media exposure terror organizations receive is important to the continuation of their activities, she said. Every suicide attack leads to 12 more volunteers ready to give up their lives, she concluded.

At what point does legitimate coverage of a bombing become a sensationalist bonanza for terrorist recruiters? Post comments below.

Leunig's lunacy

In Melbourne, cartoonist Michael Leunig of The Age makes a sick association between Ariel Sharon and Hamas’ late founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.


Memo to Leunig: As a result of a sporting accident, Yassin was wheelchair-bound from age 12. The handicap didn't stop him from orchestrating the deaths of hundreds of Israelis.

(Hat tip: Israellycool)

Continuing vilification

Tom Gross highlights some positive and negative trends in coverage of Sharon. The good news is that Sharon has been “humanized” by certain traditionally hostile news services. The bad news is that inaccurate vilification continues, mostly regarding Sharon's association with the 1982 Sabra and Shatilla massacre and his controversial 2000 visit to the Temple Mount:

Even amid this improved coverage, as Sharon lies fighting for his life many articles in the Western media have retailed untruths, almost in passing, as though they were incontrovertible historical facts: Sharon initiated the second intifada, Sharon ordered the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and so on….

Equally, there has been almost no reference to the fact that the Sabra and Shatila massacres were carried out by (Christian) Arabs against (Muslim) Arabs, in response to massacres by Muslims, and virtually no indication that the Palestinians themselves had carefully planned the 2000 intifada….

Most of the reporting has failed to supply any context - for example as to why Israeli troops entered Lebanon in 1982. I have seen hardly any references to past moves Sharon made for peace such as the 1982 dismantling of Yamit and 13 other settlements in the Sinai.

How the Grinch stole the Eid

GrinchAccording to AFP, the festive Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha wasn’t so cheerful in post-disengagement Gaza. Who does the French news service spin as the Grinch who stole the Eid?

A) Fatah gunmen responsible for much of the Strip’s chaos.
B) Hamas’ Qassam rocket crews.
C) Israel.

Take a wild guess.


Tuesday, January 10 2006

Massacring history

GlobeColumnist HDS Greenway of the Boston Globe accuses Israel and Ariel Sharon of direct responsibility for the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps:

Sharon's political nadir was the massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla by allied Christian Lebanese militias, whom the Israelis had brought up to do the killing.

The Israelis remained just outside but turned the night into day with illumination rounds so their surrogates could see for the task at hand. An Israeli fact-finding commission found Sharon indirectly responsible for the atrocities.

Greenway implies that IDF planned the Sabra and Shatilla massacre all along by allowing Christian Phalangists to run amok in the camps. But as Mitch Bard explains, the Phalangist forces entered Sabra and Shatilla to root out terror cells based in those camps. The Kahan Commission of Inquiry held Sharon indirectly responsible for not anticipating the possibility that the Phalangists would deliberately kill Palestinian civilians during the operation.

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'One authority, one law and one gun'

In the Baltimore Sun, Ariel Kastner eloquently skewers the PA for allowing Hamas to run in elections:

The issue of a Hamas victory is not merely about a political battle between two parties in the Palestinian territories. It is about the future of a Palestinian state. The fundamental problem with having an armed terrorist group such as Hamas in power is that it mocks a basic tenet of the democratic process: There should be one, centrally controlled military subject to civilian review (what Mr. Abbas refers to as "one authority, one law and one gun").

Further, the presence of Hamas as an armed force in government, combined with its call to destroy Israel, will delay any resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For this reason, it was a grave mistake for Mr. Abbas to allow Hamas to participate in the elections without first handing over its weapons or renouncing its call to destroy Israel. This invited Hamas into the political arena without requiring any concessions from it in return.

Al-Masri trial underway

AlmasriBloomberg News reports that the trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri (pictured) is now underway. The imam of London’s controversial Finsbury mosque is accused of soliciting the murder of Jews and other non-Muslims.


Monday, January 9 2006

Hamas TV

AP reports that Hamas has launched Gaza's first private television station.


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